Owl: 99 Percent Perfect

The Owl flies high above Berea... He watches, he ponders, with the odd detour if he sees a small moving creature. He's had a lot of time to think about what the Browns should do with the #3 pick, and his preferred pick may surprise you...

Phil Savage is doing everything to make his first draft as Browns general manager a success, working every detail right down to assigning seats in the draft room to avoid chaos when the Browns "are on the clock," as NFL officials like to say.

Don't expect miracles, Savage keeps saying. Yet after six years of mostly disappointment, fans are expecting exactly that. They deserve a miracle, too, particularly the ones that pay through the nose to sit in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Those fans, for the most part, have been bored during home games. No wonder they yak on their cell phones and are content standing in a line for 20 minutes for a Bloody Mary. "Hey, Mac. Make it a double. Maybe then I'll see enough defensive players for the Browns to finally stop the run."

Everything points to the Browns taking wide receiver Braylon Edwards from Michigan with the third pick. It's almost too easy. But it will get intriguing if the 49ers and Dolphins both take quarterbacks, which could happen. Then the Browns would be in the enviable position of being able to choose between Edwards and Auburn running back Ronnie Brown. Or, they could trade the pick.

"We don't want to just give the pick away if we were to try to move it, but we're prepared to go pretty far down if we feel like it's a good thing to do," Savage said. "We're open to anything. We're willing to pick, we're willing to stay, we're willing to move down.

"Obviously, the more (picks) the better for us, but if we come out of it with the three right picks I think we'll be happy."

The Owl might be in a minority - nothing new there - but if Brown and Edwards are available and the pick isn't traded, I take Brown. He's big, he's fast and he's versatile.

Yeah, the Browns have Lee Suggs, who rushed for 100 yards in each of his last three games, and, yeah, they traded two defensive linemen to Denver for running back Reuben Droughns.

And, yeah, the Browns do not have a go-to receiver for Trent Dilfer. Edwards would fill than hole immediately. The thought of Kellen Winslow Jr. and Edwards catching passes from Dilfer as opposed to Steve Heiden and Antonio Bryant catching passes from Jeff Garcia or Luke McCown makes my feathers sweat.

Still, if Brown is as good as advertised, this is the question: Who could have a bigger impact on the season - a top-notch rusher or a top-notch wide receiver?

The answer is the runner, particularly in the ball-control offense Coach Romeo Crennel prefers, because in a typical offense a team's top running back will touch the ball five or six times for every one time a receiver touches it. If a receiver catches 80 passes, that's only five catches a game. And how many of those five would Edwards catch that a receiver taken in the third or fourth round would not?

If Brown could string together five or six 1,000-yard seasons - and we'll be keeping track if the Browns have a chance at him and pass it up - chances are good he'll be running on a playoff team before long. And he'd be a major reason why.

Savage knows he will be criticized no matter what decision he makes. He knows he'll be graded by media around the country. He is ready for it. He wants fans to believe he knows what he's doing. Judging by the drafts in Baltimore, in which he played a major role as Ozzie Newsome's right-hand man, he deserves that trust.

"We feel like what we're doing is a fresh start," Savage said. "We want our fans and the people that watch the Browns to look forward to the Browns draft.

"I remember in 1996, that first year in Baltimore, we took Jonathan Ogden. The hat didn't have a logo and it didn't fit his head. We looked like something out of a cartoon strip. It was like 'What are they doing? They took a left tackle and left Lawrence Phillips on the board.' There was very little interest in some ways in that draft. After that, we started having 20,000 people show up at the stadium for the draft party. That's the kind of enthusiasm we want our fans to have.

"If people look at it objectively and say, 'This is what they say they're doing and this is what they say they're going to do,' I think people will believe (the Browns) did their absolute best to get the right guy. That's all you can ask for. It can't be perfect. You're dealing with human beings. But we want it to be 99 percent perfect."

We'll take 99 percent.


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